Groups were made
up of Galician speakers and Spanish speakers in each of the three types of place of
residence (countryside, villages and cities) and two for each place of residence, plus a
bilingual pilot-group. Due to the heterogeneity of urban linguistic usage in Galicia, we
considered it necessary to establish a typology of Galician towns and cities according to
the dominant language. Through an analysis of correlations which determined the
association between Galician cities and their linguistic usage we then proceeded to choose
the cities where the discussion groups would take place, i.e. Santiago de Compostela,
Ourense, Vigo and A Coruña, while Pontevedra, Lugo and Ferrol were excluded. The other
discussion groups (villages and countryside) took place in Baiona (Pontevedra) and Maceda
The first round of
analysis of results from the matched-guise tests aimed at determining which variables have
an influence on the attitudinal assessments of Galician young people. For this we used a
multivariable technique (general linear model of repeated measurements). We deduced from
the results that young Galicians show rather homogeneous attitudes towards those speaking
in matched linguistic varieties: their assessments were not influenced by their place of
residence, or by their gender, mother tongue or usual language.
By means of this
analysis we obtained thirteen significant contrasts. Eight were determined by the presence
or absence of Galician accent in the matched voices. Young people perceived the voice
without Galician accent as more clever, attractive, educated, innovative,
with leadership skills, practical, interested in making progress and self-confident.
which influenced the assessments of the young people was the gender of the speaker
interacting with accent, such that they assessed the female voices more negatively, less attractive,
less clever and with fewer leadership skills when they had a Galician
It is worth noting
the lack of importance of the variable language in the attitude assessments of
the subjects, whether in isolation or interacting with other variables. The results given
by the cluster technique confirmed that the language used (i.e. Galician or Spanish) has
less influence thane either Galician accent or the gender of the matched voice in the
social categorisation of the subjects. For the youngsters, the combination of variables
which most determined the social categorisation was female gender combined with a
"matched" accent (i.e. traditional Galician and Spanish with such an accent).
Once the variables
which influence on the attitude assessment of young Galicians were determined, we set
about establishing speaker characteristics constituting the dimensions against which the
subjects categorised the speakers, by taking into account studies using the same technique
(Bradac, 1990; Edwards, 1999; Fasold, 1984; Giles and Coupland, 1991)
Analysis of Individual Differences (INDSCAL) we noted that males speaking with no Galician
accent were accorded higher scores in the status dimension (i.e leadership, interest in
making progress or self-confidence) and lower scores in the solidarity
dimension (i.e. physical attractiveness, funny, sense of humour and friendly).
Noneless, where females spoke with no Galician accent, it was pride which
determines the social success dimension but in a markedly pejorative way.
The varieties with
a Galician accent were positively rated on characteristics belonging to the solidarity
dimension and associated with personal integrity such as friendly or generous,
or on the empathy dimension such as funny or with sense of humour,
altogether related to aspects of status in terms of traditional values (i.e. hard
working).In addition, the Galician-accented varieties were negatively correlated with
characteristics on the status dimension such as leadership skills, physical
attractiveness, intelligence, culture and pride. In contrast with what was
found with the previously mentioned dimension, when the voice was that of a female
speaking in varieties with a Galician accent, the most relevant characteristic was loyalty,
on the solidarity dimension and was associated to traditional values, especially when
coupled with the hard working characteristic. Least relevant was physical
As for qualitative
analysis (in-depth interviews and discussion groups) we found some differences as compared
to the results of other studies exploring the same situation but using other
methodological tools to gather and analyse the data, as for example the Sociolinguistic
Map of Galicia (Seminar of Sociolinguistics, 1994, 1995, 1996).
In the in-depth
interviews, the issues related with identity (i.e. being Galician) were defined by
the participants in subjective terms such that language is not the object of consensus in
the definition of Galician identity among the younger generation. The subjects considered
that speaking Galician is a necessary requirement for being considered as Galician but
varying with the usual language of the interviewee, i.e. the Galician speakers, more than
those speaking Spanish, that a Galician is someone who speaks Galician. Furthermore some
Spanish speakers were more reluctant to give relevance to language as a marker of group
identification or even to accept any kind of ethnic classification because it is perceived
as potentially excluding.
To define oneself
as Galician outside Galicia is not positive, and moreover to live outside Galicia does not
seem to awaken a feeling among the young a feeling which favours greater attachment to
Galicia and the Galician language, but rather the contrary.
Shift in the usual
language is negatively considered, with the particularity that those individuals who
shifted from Galician to Spanish are usually generously assessed, and their behaviour is
viewed as the result of ignorance while those who shifted from Spanish to Galician are
assessed with intransigence, their attitude being considered as ridiculous, pretentious
and the result of a nationalist ideology. The interviewees who are new speakers of
Galician tell stories of exclusion and marginalization on linguistic grounds. Those who
changed their accent towards more traditional phonology are also worse assessed than those
having adopted phonological features closer to Spanish.
members of the groups had of celebrities in the past is limited to writers, showing a
predisposition to yield to cultural Spanish identity markers (represented by celebrities).
associated the dissemination of the written norm with an oral standard negatively
characterized considered to be imposed. The majority place individual freedom before
adoption of a standard language, (3) so in fact indicating a certain
scepticism towards the norm. Furthermore, and in rather contradictory fashion,
non-normative orthographic options were also negatively rated. The criteria determining
linguistic authenticity were based upon such factors as naturalness, spontaneity,
convenience, the rural world and traditional customs.
convergence was a demand made by many Spanish speakers and a concession Galician speakers
both understood and justified when it occurs in the direction of Spanish. Convergence
towards Galician had a kinship meaning. Broadly speaking, in convergence on Spanish the
status dimension was highly relevant while for convergence on Galician, the main dimension
was that of solidarity. There was nevertheless a tendency in some Galician-speaking
interviewees, for whom language was the corner stone of personal identity, to be very
critical towards the lack of convergence on Galician.
usefulness of the language, Galician wass not perceived as having social profitability
outside the social group of reference, except in some university circles and in public
administration. Related to this, the informants considered that Galicians have to speak
both languages, and their articulation of this systematically confused two dimensions:
competence and use, usually giving more relevance to competence which is the dimension
that accepts an asymetrical situation. Among Galician speakers, it was considered that the
Galician language deserves special attention on the part of society and agents devoted to
the process of normalisation.
The main role of
Galician in the education system was also focused on the competence dimension, since for
many young Galicians the school should not be used as a tool for identity issues, i.e.
there is no reason school should promote the use of Galician.
usual language of the informants seems to determine the general attitudes towards the
topics discussed during the interview and to constitute a continuum from negative
to very positive attitudes , arranged in the following order: urban Spanish speakers or
inhabitants of villages, rural Galician speakers and urban new speakers of Galician.
From the analysis
of the discussion groups, we can conclude that the production and reproduction of
representations of the current situation of the Galician language is conditioned by the
social group of reference to which the participants belong. The creation of settings where
the subjects share characteristics as the usual language and the place of residence
(especially the latter) strengthens the feelings of belonging to the reference group and
favours the articulation of notions associated with the common sense abilities
relevant for the group.
The study revealed
the existence of an attitude continuum that, in its negative side includes
attitudes of rejection linked to the lack of identification with identity markers related
to the language, and in its positive side includes attitudes linked with its use as an
external feature of symbolic adhesion to the cultural Galician identity. This two poles of
the continuum coincided with the social representations of two minority groups of
young people. The first one was made up of individuals living in cities, monolingual
Spanish speakers, with little active competence in Galician. In this group the relations
between the two languages were perceived as conflictive and progress in the extension of
the social use of Galician was considered to be a threat for Spanish. The second group was
made up of monolingual Galician speakers living in cities who, in some moment of their
lives, decided to use Galician as they considered the language a core issue of the
Galician collective identity. The majority of the young people who took part in this study
were situated on the continuum between these two poles.
Spanish-speaking groups we found some factors that were important obstacles to the
extension of the social use of Galician: the habit of using Spanish in all relevant
domains of interaction, the perception of an environment mostly made up of
Spanish-speaking people, the negative assessment of the usefulness of speaking Galician in
most social domains, and the existence of prejudices based on the persistence of
traditional stereotypes (rude, stupid) and the arising of new stereotypes (nationalist,
snob). Within the work domain, the use of Galician was usually linked to low prestige
employment or with the education and administration spheres, constituting therefore a
factor influencing the low assessment of the usefulness of the use of Galician as usual
The perception of
a greater concern in other autonomous regions towards their languages awakes ambivalent
feelings, mixing culpability for not doing enough for the Galician language and the
rejection of these models on the basis of a supposed greater tolerance among Galician
There is a
dominant theme voiced about the situation of Galician in the education system which can be
defined as that of "multilingualism" by expressing positive assessments towards
the learning of different languages. Noneless, the debate is usually limited to the
question of linguistic competence and avoids the question of linguistic use.
the maintenance of Galician is delegated to supra-individual institutions thus avoiding
possible contradiction caused by the inconsistence between the expressed attitudes and
we found in the Galician-speaking groups an important commitment to the use of Galician
and a wish to extend it in all domains of social life. There are differences worth noting
in the representations of the situation among urban new speakers of Galician (the latter
evincing the worse assessments of the current linguistic situation) and the rural speakers
who have Galician as a first language.
speakers living or born in the countryside and who still keep up close links with it
assess the overall situation of Galician and the improvement of its social prestige in a
much more positive way, due to the presence of Galician in the mass-media and public
The comparison of
this negative situation with that of other regions having their own language results in a
feeling of inferiority and articulation of self-blame which seeks to explain the situation
by means of supposed anthropological features of the Galician ethnolinguistic community (lack
of proudness, absence of leaders...).
Galician-speaking group made up of people with Galician as first language we found
elements that can influence the shift of the usual language towards Spanish. To the extent
that members of this group include in their discourse the values of the committed
speakers, this can set up procedures to preclude shift to Spanish.
Proposals for action
Based on the
conclusions of this research on linguistic attitudes in Galicia, the Seminar of
Sociolinguistics of the Real Academia Galega proposes a series of recommendations and
proposals for action. It is obvious that the interest of this study lies in making a
diagnosis taking as its point of departures the described lack of suitability. The
measures to be adopted should therefore follow this direction.
The measures of
action should be based on the different types of factors determining in every social group
the reluctance towards a greater use of Galician as usual language. The main guidelines
that should guide these measures are listed below.